A cup full of pennies
The sun had dipped into the ocean and sizzled out it’s bright. The sky was a bipolar devil trying to glow in the dark.
He was a man with a red beard and a cup full of pennies from all the times souls like mine had wandered here seeking his stories.
In some way he was a memory of the past, words of light that cast shadows on the men we used to be, and he was also the hope for the future, a seed breaking its shell learning to trust the earth, knowing that people aren't always good, but aren't always bad either.
When he said if I ever do die, I can take care of my soul, but somebody please take my body home. All I could say was I will, all I could think was, I know a few things about being lost myself, I have perfected the art of drawing circles with my footprints, the sand between my toes is not from this beach, we are both travellers of some sort.
No room to feel he began, we were men
Our hearts of stone were never for evil, it just had to be strong enough to protect the people in it.
That’s the problem with poets
The sunset was never meant to be stared at, it was the only sign that we had fought the sun that day and won and the sunrise was a new days battle cry.
The stars were never meant to be gazed at, they only remind us that anything that can only glow in the dark will always remain small and common.
So no room to feel, maybe every silver lining is lightening and thunder is the sound your body makes when it hits the ground, you my dear boy are trying too hard to touch the clouds, there’s ground that needs breaking.
So leave dreams for sleeping men, leave sky for birds and leave tears for shoulders strong enough to carry them.
But what do I know, I’m just an old man collecting yesterdays till tomorrow comes. And you are a young man with the foolish of pride and the wisdom of time. The sun’s coming up, leave a penny in the cup.
2. The bread-maker's son
He lets the rain kiss his closed eye wet, he buries the air in the depths of his lungs and counts the seconds between each wave, this has always been a funeral for his fears.
And tonight he washes sugar and yeast and his father’s name from his finger tips, he knows all that has no place in war and sunrise will be a new days battle cry.
But he yearns for Glenbeigh, for the kiss of her rain, how her waves rise like the yeast in his father's kitchen, how sunrise was an ode to the sunset before.
When did the crashing of waves give way to the clashing of men, and bodies fall to kiss the ground loud, they do not rise like yeast anymore.
In honour of the one hundred and twelve, how much room do the nameless dead deserve on a monument?
He lets the blood kiss his closed eyelids wet, he buries the dead in the depths of his mind and counts the seconds between each loss, this has always been a funeral for his friends.
I remember Lagos. Her humid air and lazy clouds that did nothing to stop the sun, she is nothing like Glenbeigh. But she is everything like Glenbeigh, they’re both distant homes of two soldiers in different wars, a burial ground for fears and father’s names that have no place in war.
I came here searching answers to questions that others had asked me, so did Paddy, this was not our war.
But we search all the same, we fight all the same, if not for anything then for love, for home, for hope, for every time life hits you and you rise like the yeast in Paddy’s father’s kitchen, for those that cannot rise anymore.
If I ever do return
I’ll let my love kiss my closed eyelids wet, I’ll bury the air of my sister’s laugh in the depths of my lungs and count the seconds between each wave of tears from my mother’s face, this will be a funeral for all my fears.
3. Old School
She runs down the stairs forgetting the age of her bones, He drops the walking sticks in each hand and spreads his arms awaiting impact.
She runs into him like a car crash, with the impact of a single applaud, soft and firm and loud, as his fingers rest on the home of her spine, the place where they had lived for the past 50 years.
Her laughter, mending the broken fragments of his aching heart.
Her tears, drowning the purple heart on his uniform.
Paddy uses ******* to put her hair behind her left ear and whispers to her, "You're stepping on my toes"
They hug and sway, their laugh was like a hip hop and jazz jam session, Paddy was always trumpet loud and Sarah was always drums, the beat to which the rhythm flows. So each skip of a heart beat was half cardiac problems of an ageing man and half love.
I am half whatever you want me to be and half yours.
If Paddy could fight an entire war then what is an ocean, if not eight hours and two planes, what is a movie over Facetime, if not the sound of your heartbeat when you fall asleep with your phone on your chest and what is a half empty bed, if not a metaphor for all the parts of me that you complete.
And every time that we meet and forget the reason we were apart in the first place like drowning purple hearts.
I pray that my fingers will find home in the arch of your back
And my toes will find comfort underneath your feet.
When we are old and frail and walk the streets with love like thunder, the loud that is left after all the spark is gone, the sound of a single applaud.
I pray that our love will be proof that jazz and hip hop are a match made in heaven.
But till then, pick up your phone.
4. Price and Punishment
The lads and I were gathered around his stool like stars around a half moon, his stories were always the longest, mostly because each sentence was followed by a swirl and swallow of Guinness, he described it as the worst thing he ever tasted, but said drinking this was the duty of every red blood red beard Irish man.
His stories were always the longest but always the best, they were always about the same stranger, the same soldier, the same red beard, the same tattoo on his wrist where he had hid his lover’s name, the same war.
Red beard Paddy never really believed in God, but it didn’t take long for him to learn the language of the enemy, it didn’t take long for that to convince him that he deserved death just as much as they did. The first time he got shot, it was a graze across his wrist like something was trying to tell him we know where heart is, like something was trying to tell him there is no love in war, that death and blood are prize and punishment.
But Paddy, Paddy fought for love, for love of country, for love of family, for love of the ******* his wrist that bullets couldn’t ****. For what is blood if not the price of love and what is death if not the punishment for apologetic sinners, for God so loved the world, that he killed himself.
The war as patient as his love both waiting long into the night, the days as many as the number of fatherless homes, each bullet hole just something else for bullet girl to fill, her touch was soft and deep and complete.
Paddy prayed in the language of the enemy the day he heard the war was over, he cried in the language of God the day he heard he had lost her, almost half expecting it, something for his sins, a bandage for his wrist that heals and covers all at once.
The stars were gathered around a half moon that day and that was all Paddy and I had in common, my father’s death was no price for sin my pain was no punishment. I sat there, listening to this story about the price of sin and the punishment of war wondering, what was my sin? Why do I always have to look at a half moon and wonder, where are all the stars gone? If death is the price for love then what is the price of life? Tell me and I’ll pay it.
Maybe Paddy and I aren’t so different after all, maybe we love a bit too deep and cry a bit too God, but losing her will always be his price and loving you will always be my sin.